UCLA women’s volleyball has had difficulty getting off to a roaring start in essentially every match this season. The Bruins notched the first point in 20 of their 49 total sets.
But against Washington State (12-4, 1-3 Pac-12), No. 13 UCLA women’s volleyball (9-4, 2-2) reversed the trend, recording the first point in all four sets en route to a 3-1 victory – 25-12, 25-12, 22-25 and 25-13.
The Bruins posted hitting percentages higher than .300 in three of the four sets, while the Cougars were stifled for much of the match, posting a .000 hitting percentages in the final set.
Senior pin hitter Riley Buechler continued her scorching stretch, compiling a season-high 21 kills. She’s garnered double-digit kills in six straight bouts.
While freshman outside hitter Mac May typically finishes second in kills behind Buechler, fellow freshman pin hitter Jenny Mosser finished with 17 kills to earn that spot, despite owning a low hitting percent.
UCLA’s win looked more convincing on paper, as the Bruins edged the Cougars in all categories except blocks. UCLA has not been as intimidating at the net defensively compared to their conference opponents – the Bruins had more blocks than just one conference opponent thus far.
Nonetheless, after suffering a loss to a top-ranked Washington squad, UCLA rebounded well against Washington State to avoid its second losing streak of the season.
After enjoying a four-game home stretch, the Bruins take the road to battle against Arizona (7-6, 1-3) on Wednesday. The Wildcats finished at .500 or below in conference play in three of the past four seasons.
They are in the midst of a three-game slump as well, losing to Washington State, Stanford and Cal across the past two weeks. But they own a winning record at home at 4-3, though some of those matches were against lackluster opponents.
Unlike many of the Pac-12 teams, Arizona has more than just two main hitters. Four players have accounted for a majority of the team’s kills.
Junior pin hitters Kendra Dahlke and Tyler Spriggs, the more experienced veterans, each sit atop the team rankings in kills with 123 and 103, respectively. But two younger stars have emerged as well in redshirt freshman outside hitter Elizabeth Shelton and freshman outside hitter Paige Whipple, who rank third and fourth on the team in kills.
But the Wildcats’ overall hitting percentage, .227, could be an issue against the stingy Bruin defensive corps. With junior Zana Muno and sophomore Savvy Simo accumulating numerous digs in the backcourt, UCLA has held the past three opponents to hitting percentages worse than .250 overall.
With the victory, the Bruins could end a three-game losing streak against the Wildcats.
This is your UCLA women’s volleyball vs. Arizona game thread.